Timeless pieces of art that enhance the landscape

About the artist

Bill Johnston

Having grown up in The Lake District, I was surrounded by a landscape that ultimately shaped and inspired my life. My enjoyment of nature and the natural elements has continued to stimulate and inspire in equal measure, and this is reflected in my work. As a teenager I developed my skill in drystone walling on an upland sheep farm, in the Howgill Fells, Cumbria. The sense of accomplishment, and understanding that the walls would be there for generations to observe, instilled my daily work with pride and passion.

The next 20 years were spent designing and creating beautiful gardens and landscapes throughout the south of England. Primarily working with stone, undertaking projects in locations as diverse as The Royal Crescent in Bath, to a Neolithic Burial Mound within a World Heritage Site in Wiltshire.

The weather and its effect on the landscape continues to influence my work, understanding how weathering and time can enhance natural materials, particularly rock. Having climbed 6000m in the Himalayas, explored the Artic wilderness, and more recently spent time in the Atlas mountains in Morocco – rocks and landscapes continue to thrill and excite me.

Thankfully my family share by enthusiasm for the landscape, even on wet days on Dartmoor, or freezing winds on the summit of Helvellyn in The Lake District. Despite numerous attempts we have yet to get a view from the top of Helvellyn – perhaps next time!

I work from a studio at home, central Wiltshire, located on the edge of Salisbury Plain. The tranquil landscape surrounding our home provides the perfect environment to create my work.

Materials

Primarily I enjoy working with slate, but have successfully completed works using a variety of stone. Due to the weight of the larger pieces, they are considered permanent structures.

Stone

Cotswold stone – warm golden coloured limestone. Often rich in fossils and splits nicely making it a pleasure to work with.

Bath stone – beautiful creamy beige in colour which mellows with age. Considered 'soft' to work with, the stone is highly durable.

Slate

The colours never fail to make me smile, blues, greens, purple and grey hues. All the slate is sourced from the UK, with much of it being reclaimed – and nicely weathered.

Our blue / purple slate comes from Wales, either the Penrhyn, Ffestiniog or Cwt-y-Bugail quarries – believed to be the most durable slate in the world. It is waterproof and unaffected by normal extremes of temperature, and is colour fast and non-fading. Westmorland Green slate from Kirkby Moor (Burlington Slate Quarries) in Cumbria.

The slate is very versatile, and I only work with basic hand tools, and copious amounts of elbow grease. Slate can be further enhanced with subtle lighting, or occasionally through indoor display – being both tactile and fascinating. Slate sculptures work well in bold, simple shapes, globes, pyramids and cones.
Decorative stone sculptures designed, built and installed
Copyright © 2020 - Bill Johnston